The changes to US passport renewals 

After years of waiting, American travelers may soon be able to renew their passports online. Although the process may still take a few weeks, it will still be faster and more convenient.

At the moment, passport renewals must be filled out by hand. Forms can be downloaded and printed to fill out, or they are available at passport acceptance facilities. 

However, as wait times have increased significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic, the US State Department announced a pilot program to trial online passport renewals this month. 

To start with, it’s predicted that the timeline will be similar to in-person renewals, which are currently between 8 and 11 weeks. While the program is being tested, the agency will use 25,000 volunteers with the hope that the program can be rolled out fully by next year. 

Once the program is finalized, it’s expected that travelers will be able to get their up-to-date passports much faster. The change will also cut costs and simplify the renewal process. 

The fees aren’t being changed at the moment and will remain at $130 for the book, $30 for the passport card, and $160 for both. 

Who is eligible for an online renewal? 

During the pilot scheme, only certain people are eligible for online renewals. The criteria for the scheme include: 

  • They must be applying for a regular tourist passport 
  • They need to be at least 25 years old when they apply 
  • The applicant must have had a valid US passport for at least 10 years 
  • They cannot be in the process of changing their name, place of birth, gender, or date of birth 
  • They are able to upload a digital passport photo online 
  • Their current passport cannot be lost, stolen, destroyed, or damaged 
  • If their current passport has expired, it must have been issued at least 9 years ago but not more than 15 years ago
  • The applicant must live in the US and can’t have an Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office address
  • They can make payment with a credit or debit card online or by transferring funds 

Anyone applying for a new passport online should make sure international travel is scheduled for at least five weeks after receiving the new passport. Additionally, their current passport will be invalidated once the online application is submitted. 

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